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WEDNESDAY, 16 APR 2014
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Militants hit security forces as Iraq unrest kills 11, MP arrested
An Iraqi security officer walks in front of the coffin of a soldier, who was killed during clashes in Ramadi, during a funeral in Najaf, 160 km (99 miles) south of Baghdad, December 28, 2013. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani
An Iraqi security officer walks in front of the coffin of a soldier, who was killed during clashes in Ramadi, during a funeral in Najaf, 160 km (99 miles) south of Baghdad, December 28, 2013. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani
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BAGHDAD: Militants targeted Iraqi soldiers and anti-Al-Qaeda militiamen Sunday, as attacks killed at least 11 people including one child, security and medical officials said.

The attacks come as Iraq suffers its worst violence since 2008, when the country was just emerging from a brutal period of sectarian killings.

In Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, gunmen attacked a Sahwa militia checkpoint, killing at least four fighters and wounding at least three.

The Sahwa are made up of fighters who joined forces with the United States against the jihadists from late 2006, helping to bring about a significant reduction in violence.

They are frequently targeted by Sunni militants, who consider them traitors.

In the northern city of Mosul, a car bomb exploded near an army checkpoint, killing four soldiers, while a roadside bomb in the city killed a child and wounded three people.

Mosul is one of the most dangerous parts of Iraq, with militants carrying out frequent attacks and also reportedly extorting money from businesses.

And in Baghdad itself, a roadside bomb exploded in the Jihad area, killing at least two people and wounding six.

More than 6,750 have been killed in violence since the beginning of 2013, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.

Analysts say widespread discontent among Sunni Arabs over what they see as discrimination at the hands of the Shiite Arab majority who lead the government is a major factor in the heightened violence.

Iraqi security forces Saturday arrested a prominent Sunni lawmaker and supporter of anti-government protests in a raid on his home in the western province of Anbar, sparking clashes in which at least five people were killed, police sources said.

The violent arrest of Ahmad al-Alwani is likely to inflame tensions in Sunni-dominated Anbar, where protesters have been demonstrating against what they see as marginalization of their sect by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government.

Alwani belongs to the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc and has been a strong critic of Maliki and an influential figure in the protest movement.

 

Police sources said a two-hour firefight broke out Saturday when bodyguards and members of Alwani’s tribe resisted police and soldiers who went to arrest Alwani on charges of “terrorism” from his house in the city of Ramadi.

They said those killed in the fighting included three of Alwani’s bodyguards, his sister and his brother. 

“Army troops with police special forces were trying to arrest Alwani from his house, but fierce fighting erupted. Five bodies, including one woman, were taken to Fallujah hospital,” one police source said.

No members of Alwani’s family could immediately be reached to give their version of events. 

Parliament speaker Usama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni, called the operation a “blatant violation” of Iraq’s constitution and a “dangerous precedent.”

 

Sheikh Abdel-Malik al-Saadi, an influential Sunni figure, called it a “criminal act” that showed authorities’ “marginalizing and abusive actions” against Sunnis.

He urged Sunnis to defend themselves. “I call upon Sunnis, protesters and sons of Ramadi to insist upon your demands, because he who dies, dies to be martyr,” he said.

 
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